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Leonardo DiCaprio backs Alaska salmon in battle against controversial mine

The Foundation is advocating for people to speak up before a public comment period closes May 30.

A representative of a foundation associated with Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio joined Alaska fishing industry leaders in Seattle Wednesday night in opposition to development of the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

At the meeting of Northwest Fisheries Association (NWFA), seafood companies were urged to take action against the massive mine. Attending the event was Kristina Haddad, COO for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

Haddad took particular interest in documentary filmmaker Mark Titus' forthcoming movie titled "The Wild," which documents the mine's potentially damaging effects to the salmon fishery in Bristol Bay and includes interviews with the Pebble project's CEO Tom Collier.

"It's just so hard for me to comprehend how this person (Tom Collier) can do what he's doing," she said to Titus, following the director showing attendees a trailer of the film at the event. "Did you see any sign of anything other than just pure greed?"

"People are people, he's got an agenda, certainly," Titus responded of his experience interviewing Collier for the film. He noted Collier seemed to be more media-friendly this time around with him than during the filming of his 2014 documentary focused on Alaska's wild salmon titled "The Breach."

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The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is advocating action against the proposed Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska, which is currently under review by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The foundation on Wednesday tweeted a link to a "call to action" form that allows individuals to add their names to a customized letter that can be sent to the Army Corps. The letter requests that no mine be built in the region, noting the Army Corp's "analysis of subsistence impacts, downstream effects, and economic impacts both within the region and to those who rely on the fishery but live elsewhere, are completely inadequate."

The foundation also weighed in on Facebook about the mine's potentially devastating effects.

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This is not the first time the group has advocated to stop the controversial mine, which if completed, would be the largest in North America.

It funds the United Tribes of Bristol Bay (UTBB) under its "indigenous rights" projects, according to its website. The goal of the group is to "protect lands and waters that support the traditional way of life of the indigenous people of Bristol Bay by advocating against unsustainable large-scale hard rock mines like the Pebble Mine Project," the foundation says.

In 2017 the foundation also awarded an $80,000 (€71,050) grant to the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC) to help the group in its efforts to protect the state's southeast waters from harmful Canadian mining, according to the Juneau Empire.

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